Saberlane was a member of the '94 Mountaineers.
However, after the events of The Monarch Papers, CJ Bernstein, head of the newly reopened Ackerly Green Publishing, revealed that he was in fact Saberlane. The details of his escape from the Churning Storm are not fully known to this day.
CJ Bernstein, also known as Saberlane, grew up in rural Florida, coming from an impoverished background that didn’t afford him many opportunities to read books. His love of reading was fostered through librarians and English teachers, who allowed him glimpses into magical worlds that only books can provide. CJ was a high school drop out, and a twice college dropout, once majoring in musical theatre. He eventually decided to pursue screenwriting and moved to Los Angeles where, after a year, “happenstance and luck and being almost sort-of prepared led me to my first sold script.”
CJ worked for many years as a screenwriter but became disillusioned with having a job that forced him to chase other people’s ideas, and which didn’t allow him to take creative risks. CJ had worlds in his mind that he wished to share with the world. After consulting with his husband, Matt, he chose to pursue his dream and move to New York City to become an indie publisher and author.
In the spring of 2013, CJ’s kids found Ackerly Green’s Guide to Magiq on a park bench in New York City, and the Guide became a cherished book in their household. The book was eventually tracked down by Mountaineers in early 2016, who asked if they could see it, but it was in tatters by the time they arrived. The Guide had finally disintegrated, but not before one of the children had made a hand-drawn copy. The Mountaineers begin the painstaking process of reproducing the Guide based on the rough copy and their fragmented memories of its content and illustrations. The Guide was released online, including a foreword by CJ.
Saberlane was first mentioned during Fragment Fourteen, in Knatz’s journal. She noted that Saberlane had suggested she put it online, but mentioned that she would be keeping it a secret from everyone but him. When Knatz began tracking down loose threads in the hopes of opening the Book of Briars, she remembered a Mountaineer named Nib who, in the early days of the forums, had received a locked briefcase from Benefactor. The briefcase had almost been forgotten, as no one could figure out how to open it, and there were many artifacts in play, but Knatz had an urge to check on it. So, she traveled to South Carolina, meeting up with Saberlane, to check on it. Saberlane assisted Knatz in asking around for Nib and, once they found his house on Lake Blalock, Saberlane found him in the cellar. Nib’s mind was wiped from the Storm and the only thing he could mention of the briefcase was that it was “with Faris,” but Knatz was able to figure out that it was thrown over the edge of the lake near his boat, which was named Faris. With the briefcase acquired, Saberlane and Knatz drove down to Atlanta together, and Saberlane flew back to Jacksonville.
Knatz was able to get the briefcase open with the help of the modern-day Mounties, who planted the two combinations in her mind using the Fletcher Dawson website. Inside the briefcase were wood and metal parts: a bunch of little bits and pieces, like metal tines, a brass plate with holes in it, and flat wooden pieces and trim. Not knowing how to assemble it, Knatz asked Saberlane to come up to Chicago to help her, noting that his father used to build things, and praying that he might also have some carpentry skills. Saberlane was able to assemble the box, allowing Knatz to put on the lid, but the box slammed shut and refused to open. Suddenly, the color of the box began to shift and words appeared on it, mentioning an unowl’s rhyme. Knatz went through several of the unrhymes, which she solved with the help of Saberlane and the modern-day Mounties. As Knatz solved more puzzles, she realized that the strange dreams she was having were someone trying to communicate with her and, when she told this to Saberlane, he believed the dreams were from the Mountaineers in 2017. Knatz was able to successfully open the box, with a song the Mounties sang to her, gaining the word Obscuriotempus.
When Augernon returned, he asked to see Knatz, so she and Saberlane parted ways. Not wanting him to worry, Knatz sent Saberlane to New York with the box, to see if taking it to the Ramble would cause any reaction to the box. The results were unsuccessful, but Augernon was able to formulate a last-ditch effort to save the remaining Mountaineers. He had visited his grandfather and learned a bastard hex that could cause them to forget everything they knew about magiq. Augernon believed that this would shield them from the Storm, so he rallied all the Mountaineers to come together and perform the spell. Saberlane and the other remaining Mountaineers chose to forget to save themselves from the horrors of the Storm, and Augernon sacrificed himself to it so that the others would be safe. It wiped his mind away completely but allowed the Mountaineers to walk away without remembering anything.
After the Monarch Papers
After Deirdre left for Neithernor, she told the Mountaineers that Ackerly Green would be in good hands. The new steward introduced himself as CJ Bernstein—formerly known as Saberlane. Having lost his memories of the Mountaineers, CJ went on to live a normal life, marrying his husband Matt and adopting two kids. When the Ackerly Green website was released, a new post by Deirdre Green was included in the Further Tales section. In the post, which was written right before Deirdre joined the forums, Deirdre described her struggles getting Ackerly Green Publishing on social media. She realized that both the Twitter handle and Instagram account were already registered under the name AckerlyGreen. By emailing Instagram, she was able to get the address of the person who registered the account. The man was CJ, revealed to be Saberlane, the man who had found the MAGIQ Guide and who had asked to be left alone for the sake of his family. CJ admitted that he found himself strangely drawn to the company and that he was using the accounts to try to find other people who might remember it. Deirdre and CJ began a friendship over email, and CJ helped Deirdre learn how to resurrect the publishing company. As Deirdre’s interest in running a publishing company waned, she decided to leave it in the hands of CJ.
After Deirdre left for Neithernor, CJ agreed to take on the stewardship of Ackerly Green Publishing. He planned to publish Martin Rank’s account of the opening of the Book of Briars, as well as the contents of the Book of Briars. In doing so, CJ also began to dedicate his time to tracking down the old Ackerly Green books, such as The Forest of Darkening Glass, which he found in Bangladesh, coverless and missing its front matter.
Since CJ took over Ackerly Green, strange occurrences began to happen with regard to the Ackerly Green social media accounts. The Instagram, in particular, became a hub of unusual activities, with posts being made by someone other than CJ or his assistant, Devin. In “The Ackerly Green Book Shop,” CJ told Mountaineers about the strange happenings on the account, asking if it was any of the Mountaineers who were messing with it.
CJ further mentioned that he had been experiencing unusual activities in the Ackerly Green offices, mentioning that, late at night, he would sometimes hear typewriters.
Ackerly Green Secret Society
Together with Orvin Wallace, CJ was able to track down remnants of the former Ackerly Green, finding a warehouse filled with boxes of Herman the Hippocampus pins. The pins came with a note that they were for the Ackerly Green Secret Society, which CJ surmised meant that they were from the Book of The Wild, since the Book of Kings Ackerly Green wouldn’t have had the readership to justify a secret society. After acquiring the pins, CJ noticed they had some strange features, such as always finding their way onto the things he would wear.
Over the following weeks, CJ noted odd occurrences in the Ackerly Green office: the sounds of talking, pages turning, pages tearing, old phones ringing, and the feeling of someone brushing past him when he was the only one there, even the clacking of typewriters. CJ and Devin agreed that the new offices of Ackerly Green felt like they were being haunted by the old offices of Ackerly Green. Things escalated when CJ received a call from building management saying that there had been a bunch of noise complaints made by his office neighbors. One neighbor said it sounded like someone was having a knockdown, drag-out fight in the AGP office. CJ drove to the office to try and figure out what was happening. He could hear the yelling and the smashing of things from the floor’s lobby, but when he got to the office door, it got quiet. He unlocked the door, opened it, and just as he was about to turn on the light, he saw someone, standing in the dark, staring back at him. When he turned on the light, it was gone. When CJ checked if anything in the office was amiss, he found that there wasn’t a single thing in the office out of place.
CJ continue working at the office, not noticing anything besides the usual odd sounds, but he kept having the nagging urge to return to the storage building where the pins were housed. Noticing he seemed to get the thoughts when he was wearing the pin, CJ decided it was a sign and snuck into the storage room. In the room, CJ found a strip of paper from Warner Green, introducing members into the Secret Society. When CJ went to leave the room, he received a notification on his phone, sent from the Ackerly Green app: “I looked across the cold and silver swirling sea.” CJ also noted that a chronocompass had been added to the app, though he himself hadn’t added it. Confused and concerned, CJ wondered if the process of building the app had been magiqally influenced.
Another evening in the office, CJ heard someone walking about. He opened the door and saw a ghost, and the two were able to communicate with each other. The ghost told CJ that he was a member of the Path of Wool, and that he was massacred by the Silver. CJ nicknamed the ghost Woolie, and he reappeared multiple times over the course of the Secret Society narrative.
Saberlane began experiencing problems with his mind and memory when, after falling asleep beside a heartbroken Woolie, part of Woolie seemed to attach himself to Saberlane’s brain. He began feeling Woolie’s presence through dreams that felt as though they were “through [Woolie’s] eyes.” In his waking hours, this resulted in Saberlane experiencing a heightened sense of distraction, irritability, and “mental fog.”
When a post from Saberlane titled “Intertwined,” that had clearly been written by Woolie, appeared on the forum, the Mountaineers decided to Call the Corners in an attempt to separate their two consciousnesses. It helped Saberlane regain control of his brain, but Woolie’s presence was still there and still causing Saberlane pain.
The Search for Magiq
Saberlane was deeply affected by the Cataclysm spell, cast during the Search for Magiq. Being at the physical center of the spell’s focus, the Ackerly Green office, he experienced the worst of the after-effects, describing the office exploding in on him in a flash. In the days and weeks after the spell, he experienced symptoms similar to that of a minor stroke, often having trouble with tenses while writing, but also experiencing memories without knowing whether or not they had already happened, which resulted in his feeling disconnected from the present.
Saberlane disappeared after using Avis Green’s aliquary to cast the Wellspring from the Ackerly Green office. When Catherine arrived at the office the following Monday and found it empty, she contacted his husband, Matt, who informed her of his disappearance. According to Matt, Saberlane had been downplaying his health and memory issues for months, and had been experiencing strange “memories of the future,” including the events of the Wellspring. He said he knew it would bring him peace, after months of suffering. He claimed he had memories that hadn’t come to pass, memories where his mind was healed, which gave him and his family hope that he would return one day, but as of May 2020, he has not been seen again.